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1-239 (Original)

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<source><g=m><o=b><age=un><status=2><abode=un><p=vdl><r=spb><tt=mi><1-239>
A TRUE AND TERRIBLE CONFESSION of the CANNIBAL ALEXANDER PEARCE, A CONVICT
HOBART TOWN, July 20, 1824
This man was executed yesterday for the horrible Murder of a fellow prisoner named Thomas Cox at or near King s River, in the month of November 1823 The circumstances which accompanied the above crime have long been considered with extreme horror, and the large and curious crowd assembled around the scaffold glanced in fearfulness at the being who stood on the gallows before them laden with the weight of human blood and known to have BANQUETTED ON HUMAN FLESH.
The Rev. Mr. Connolly who attended the unfortunate man by administering to him the consolations of Religion, also addressed the assembly, a few minutes before the fatal drop was let to fall, with the following words: - "He would commence by stating that Pearce, standing on the awful entrance into eternity on which he was placed, was desirous to make the most public acknowledgment of his guilt, in order to humble himself, as much as possible, in the sight of God and Man.
That to prevent any embarrassment which might attend Pearce in personally ex-pressing himself, he had requested and directed him to say, that he committed the murder of Cox under the following circumstances: - Having been arrested here, after his escape from Macquarie Harbour, Pearce was sent back to that Settlement, where the deceased (Cox) and he worked together in the same gang. Cox constantly entreated him to run away with him from the Settlement, which he refused to do for a length of time. Cox having procured fishhooks, a knife, and some burnt rag for tinder, he at last agreed to go with him, to which he was powerfully induced by the apprehension of corporal punishment for the loss of a shirt that had been stolen from him.
On the 13th November, they absconded from their duty into the woods, each of them taking his axe, and the prisoner being heavily ironed. For several days they wandered on without provision and reduced by weakness, until on the following Sunday evening, the deceased and prisoner arrived at King's River. A quarrel then arose because Cox could not swim, and Pearce struck him three times on the head with his axe. Pearce then freed himself of his irons, and Cox seeing him about to go off said, in a faint voice, for mercy s sake come back, and put me out of my misery!
Pearce then struck him a fourth blow, which immediately caused death; he then cut a piece of flesh off one thigh, which he roasted and ate, and after putting another piece in his pocket, he swam across the river, with intent to reach Port Dalrymple. Soon after-wards, however he became so overwhelmed with remorse, that he was constrained to recross the river, and, on seeing a schooner under weigh from the Settlement, he made a signal fire, which on being seen, induced the pilot boat to put off and take him onboard. He was then conveyed to the harbour, where he publicly owned the murder, and said 'he was willing to die for it'"
The Rev. Gentleman, after this thrilling tale of almost incredible barbarity, then proceeded to state that: [97] "He believed it was the recollection of every one present, that eight men had made their escape, last year, from Macquarie Harbour. All these except Pearce, who was one of the party soon perished, or were destroyed by the hands of their companions. To set the public right respecting their fate, Pearce is desirous to state, that this party, which consisted of himself, Matthew Travers, Bob Greenhill, Bill Cornelius, Alexander Dalton, John Mathers, and two more named Bodnam and Brown, escaped from Macquarie Harbour in two boats, taking with them what provisions the coal-miners had, which afforded each man almost two ounces of food per day, for a week.
Afterwards they lived eight or nine days on the tops of tea-tree and peppermint, which they boiled in tin-pots to extract the juice. Having ascended a hill, in sight of Macquarie Harbour, they struck a light and made two fires. Cornelius, Brown and Dalton placed themselves at one fire, the rest of the party at the other. The first three departed privately from the party, on account of Greenhill having already said, that lots must be cast for some one to be put to death, to save the whole from perishing.
Pearce does not know personally, what became of Cornelius, Dalton and Brown, but he had heard the two former reached Macquarie Harbour, where they soon died, and that Brown perished on his return to that Settlement.
After their departure, the party, then consisting of five men lived two or three days on wild berries, and their kangaroo jackets which they roasted. At length they arrived at Gordon's River, where it was agreed, that while Mathers and Pearce collected fire-wood, Greenhill and Travers should kill Bodnam, which they accordingly did. It was insisted upon that every one should partake of Bodnam's remains, lest in the event of their ultimate success to obtain their liberty, any of them might consider himself innocent of his death, and give evidence against the rest.
After a day or two they swam across the river, except Travers whom they dragged across by means of a pole, to which he tied himself. Having spent some days in distress and famine, it was proposed to Pearce, by Greenhill and Travers, that Mathers be killed, to which he agreed. Travers and Pearce held him while Greenhill killed him with an axe. Living on the remains of Mathers, which they were hardly able to taste, they spent three or four days, through weakness, without advancing beyond five or six miles, Travers being scarcely able to move from lameness and swelling in his foot.
Greenhill and Pearce agreed to kill Travers, which Greenhill did while Pearce was gathering fire-wood. Having lived some time on the remains of Travers, they were for some days without anything to eat - their wants were dreadful - each strove to catch the other off guard, and kill him.
Pearce succeeded to find Greenhill asleep, took his life and lived on him for four days. He was afterwards three days without sustenance, but fell in, at last, with the Derwent River, and found some small pieces of opossums, etc., at a place where the natives had lately made fires. More desirous to die than live, he called out loudly, as loudly as be could, expecting the natives would hear him, and come and put an end to his existence!
Having fallen in with some bushrangers, with whom he was taken, Pearce was sent back to Macquarie Harbour, from whence he escaped with Cox, as has been already stated, for whose death he is now about to suffer.
Having stated that the unfortunate Pearce was more willing to die than to live, he concluded this heart-rending and awful narrative, by entreating all persons present to offer up their prayers, and beg of the Almighty to have mercy upon the prisoner.
We trust these awful and ignominous results of disobedience to law and humanity will act as a powerful caution; for blood must expiate blood! and the welfare of society imperatively requires, that all whose crimes are so confirmed and systematic as not to be redeemed by leniety, shall be pursued in vengeance and extirpated with death!
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